Brussels Briefings “EU for Asia”: Sustainable Development (Brussels, 16 June 2010)

The European Policy Centre, in cooperation with Leiden University’s International Institute for Asian Studies, held an EU for Asia Brussels Briefing on Ensuring sustainable development on Wednesday 16 June 2010. The briefing was part of a series which the EPC organizes in the run up to the Asia-Europe (ASEM) Summit in Brussels on 4-5 October. As an outreach event, it was actively supported by Belgium, host country of ASEM 8.

Shada Islam, EPC Senior Programme Executive, reminded the audience that ensuring that growth is sustainable – namely that it meets the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of the future ones to meet theirs – is a common challenge facing both Europe and Asia. This had been recognized by the Beijing ASEM 7 Summit held in October 2008. According to the “Beijing Declaration on Sustainable Development”, economic development, social progress and environmental protection are mutually supportive and interdependent and are best tackled through cooperation between the two regions.

The Briefing started with keynote speeches by His Excellency Pisan Manawapat, Thailand’s Ambassador to the European Union, and Chris Vanden Bilcke, Head of the Sustainable Development Unit in the Belgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Ambassador Manawapat a.o. highlighted the challenge of reconciling competing policies (agriculture, industrial, economic, employment, urbanization and environment). Mr. Vanden Bilcke gave a broad overview of the state of play of multilateral negotiations relating to sustainable development, climate, biodiversity and other environmental issues. Both speakers underlined the contradiction between the interdependent nature of the new challenges and the fragmented institutional approach followed by the international community today.

A panel debate followed. Mr. Richard Young, Head of Sector in the European Commission’s EuropeAid Co-operation Office, commented on the recent successful Development Conference in Yogyakarta (26-27.05.2010). Professor Christopher Dent from Leeds University, East-Asian Studies, and specialized in Europe-Asia inter-regionalism, pleaded for green energy partnerships at multilateral level under the leadership of the G20. Professor Hongyi Lai from Nottingham University and expert in energy security, underlined the potential of higher energy efficiency in industrial processes, habitat and automotive. Clean coal technology, nuclear power, renewable energy and pricing and market mechanisms are equally areas for international cooperation. Mr. Hugo-Maria Schally, Head of the International Agreements and Trade Unit in DG Environment in the European Commission called for ´not wasting a good crisis´ to make headway and explained that thanks to good connections, EU-Asia cooperation was promising. Finally, Professor Prakash Shetty from Southampton University and specialist in food security, draw attention to the increased meat consumption and growing global livestock sector, with bio-fuels plans putting additional strains on scarcity of agricultural land.

Powerpoint presentations are available for download here.